OAKFIELD – With the postseason only days away, the Oakfield softball team was hoping to get a bit of momentum before it begins the task of defending its WIAA Division 4 state title.
A win over a solid Division 1 team probably does the trick.
McKaela Ryan worked her way out of a few jams and Oakfield came up with timely hits as it defeated Oconomowoc 9-4 Friday evening, sending the Oaks into the playoffs with a hop in their step.
“Like Howie (coach Mike Urban) said at the end of our huddle, if we don’t get confidence out of this game, he doesn’t know what’s going to give us it,” Oakfield senior catcher Madelyn Ryan said. “He told us all to give ourselves a pat on the back because this was a great win going into the tournament.”
Despite the final score, Oconomowoc (17-8) proved to be a challenge at the plate for McKaela Ryan. The Raccoons had 12 hits as a team and seemed poised to blow open the game early on. But other than a four-run third inning, they struggled when it came to pushing runs across.
In the first two innings, Oconomowoc loaded the bases, but each time Ryan worked out of it — inducing a groundout and lineout to end both threats. If the Raccoons had been able to capitalize on their chances early on, it could have been a very different game. But Ryan dug in and got the job done.
“We knew defense would be essential because they’re a really good-hitting team,” Ryan said. “I really focused on hitting spots and corners to force some weaker hits and get out of the innings.”
Added Urban: “For McKaela, lately everything hasn’t gone completely smooth all the time, but she’s got that special thing in her where she’s never going to back down. She’ll keep fighting. I go out and talk to her, doesn’t make a difference. She’s got that mental attitude and mental toughness where she’ll stay out there and keep fighting.”
Offensively, Oakfield (21-3) plated two runs in the first inning to set the tone and added five more in the second. Errors played a big role in Oconomowoc’s struggles early on as the third baseman mishandled a groundball in the first inning, scoring a run, and a bad throw from the shortstop to first base with bases loaded allowed three more to score in the second.
The Raccoons would finally find some success in the third inning, but had no luck after that as Ryan again buckled down in pressure situations.
Oconomowoc outhit Oakfield 12-7, but also had four errors compared to none for the Oaks.
Ryan struck out five and walked three to earn the victory for Oakfield, while Katie Kluge took the loss for the Raccoons, lasting five innings.
McKaela Ryan was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Madelyn Ryan added two runs as well. Brianna Sabel chipped in with a double and an RBI and Alyssa Sabel added an RBI.
“This win shows the girls that they are capable of playing with anybody they play against,” Urban said. “Are we always going to win? Probably not. But this was a very good win tonight for us and our program because we don’t get the chance to play Division 1 schools. … I think our kids bought in to accepting the challenge. I’m just very pleased with the whole group. They all played well and it was a total team win. This could really help us in the tournament.”
Oconomowoc…004 000 0 — 4 12 4
Oakfield…251 010 x — 9 7 0
WP: McK. Ryan (5 k, 3 bb).
LP: Kluge (2 k, 5 bb).
Leading hitters: Oconomowoc — B. Little 2×4, Makinen 3×3 (rbi), Lebanowski 2×3 (2b), M. Little 2×4 (2b, rbi), Sabel 1×4 (rbi), Thiel 1×3 (rbi). Oakfield — B. Sabel 1×4 (2b, rbi), McK. Ryan 2×4 (2 r), Ma. Ryan 1×4 (2 r), A. Sabel 1×4 (rbi).
Sam Oleson: (920) 907-7930 or firstname.lastname@example.org